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Crying Behavior and Its Importance in Children’s Psychosocial Development

Most people don’t know that crying behavior has its importance in children’s psychosocial development. Babies have to learn a language before they can successfully communicate with others in the first few years of their lives. The question then is “how do we understand our babies’ needs even without them saying anything?”

Babies communicate their needs by giving body signals or facial expressions as well as crying. Crying is a pertinent means of communication for babies. When you are carrying a crying baby, the chances are that they are trying to communicate something to you for you to attend to. It may be the case that they want to sleep, eat, change diapers or just suck on something. Understanding why your baby is crying is very essential for you to provide the best caregiving service to them.

In this article we will explore the properties of crying, the reasons babies cry, why crying is important for an infant’s development, and the impact of crying on children’s psychosocial behavior. We will also explore the causes of excessive crying in children and the effects of excessive crying in babies.

Table of Contents

Properties of Crying

Importance of Crying Behavior in Children's Psychosocial Development
Crying has different properties that are common in babies

Crying has six different properties that are normal to babies in the first five months of their lives. They are as follows:

  • Normal Crying Curve

There tends to be an increase in the crying rate of your child week by week up until the second month when it stabilizes and the fourth or fifth month when it recedes.

  • Unpredictable and Unexpected

Your baby may sometimes cry and without apparent reason. It is always unexpected and unpredictable. It won’t even be associated with food or changing diapers or anything going on in the environment.

  • Resistance to Soothing or Control

There is nothing you do that would soothe or control their cries at this stage.

  • Appearance to be in Pain Even When It Isn’t Pain

The way babies cry, you think they are in pain or something worse, and in the real sense, they are not. It might just be something very minute.

  • Longer Rates of Crying

On average, their cries last up to 35 or 40 minutes, and sometimes, it may take one or two hours.

  • Clustered Crying Late in the Afternoon or Evening

When it is late in the afternoon or evening time, their crying tend to cluster.

Reasons Babies Cry

Babies cry for so many reasons. This is because they are fully dependent on you and cannot meet their needs by themselves. In this section, we’ll explore some reasons why babies cry and how to soothe them.


This is a primary reason why babies cry. At the early stage of your baby’s life, he or she gets hungry easily. This is because his or her stomach is still small and can only take a little per meal. So, you would have to feed him or her from time to time. Offering him or her your breast even when you know that they just had their last feed can also help in this situation. It is called responsive feeding. On your baby’s own, he or she would stop feeding when they have had enough and is content.


This stage is very frustrating for mothers because, at this point, you do not even know why your baby is crying. At this stage, your baby would even refuse all efforts to soothe him or her. Some experts say it is a normal thing in the development of babies. Others say that it may be related to or associated with tummy problems. Your baby may have an allergy or intolerance to something in your breastmilk. If your baby is crying excessively and you can’t fathom the reason, do well to see a doctor and find out what might be causing the cries. It can be quite frustrating. Normally, this phase should only last for about two months.

The Need to Be Held

Another reason why your baby cries are for the need to be held. Your baby sometimes just needs you to hold him or her and sing songs to his or her comfort. Babies love to be close to their mothers, hearing the sound of their heartbeat and feeling the warmth of their bodies. Thus, you need to hold your baby close more.


For most babies, sleeping can be a very difficult task. Babies most times cannot sleep in noisy environments. Hence, you should take your baby to a quiet room and feed him or her to sleep.

Too Cold, Too Hot

You should check the temperature of your baby frequently. This is because they might be feeling too cold or too hot and just want you to make it more comfortable for them. Make use of a thermometer to keep your baby’s room in between 16 and 20 degrees.

Need A Diapers Change

Importance of Crying Behavior in Children's Psychosocial Development
Babies with messed-up diapers often cry because it makes them uncomfortable

The feeling of heavy, full, messed-up diapers can be so annoying for your baby and they won’t want to feel it for long. Apart from it causing bumps and infections on their bum, it is just not comfortable to stay in. Therefore, ensure you’re with new diapers anywhere you go and change them when necessary.

Why is Crying Important for an Infant’s Development?

Crying is important because it helps babies in building close relationships or bonds with those who most reliably respond to their needs. Crying can be a central ingredient needed in forming an emotional bond with one’s caregiver. The importance of crying to children’s development cannot be overemphasized. It allows them to build close relationships and attachment with the ones that truly love and care for them. When children recognize that people who love them are around them, they tend to develop a more positive outlook on life in general. They are more prone to growing up to exhibit the traits of love and caregiving that they have received from people around them while growing up.

Impact of Crying on Children’s Psychosocial Behavior

Before the advent and discovery of interdisciplinary evidence of the properties of crying, the thought that crying is abnormal in children was normal. However, we have now embraced the thought that crying is an essential part of infants’ mental development. What impact does crying have on children’s psychosocial behavior? It is pertinent to note that the impact of crying on children’s psychosocial behavior is largely dependent on the kind of response that their caregivers give to them.

When a child receives a negative response after crying and he consequently receives such responses as anger or anxiety, there is a very high tendency for the child to get withdrawn and grow into a personality that is not able to express his or her feelings for fear of rejection. Mothers are the first contact a child has. They should be very careful and ensure that they give positive responses to their child’s cries as well as put them in the care of like-minded people.
Positive responses to the cries of your infant help him or her to build feelings of self-worth, social competence as well as have few behavioral problems. These positive attributes extend to adulthood. To help your infant build these positive behaviors, be sensitive to their needs and demands whenever they cry.

Causes of Excessive Crying in a Child

When your child cries too excessively and it doesn’t have to do with any of the reasons stated above, then it might be related to some health issues that need your attention. We will explore some of those health issues in this section.

Boredom or Loneliness

Your child should not ever feel lonely. Find time for your child. Give them attention. This is the only solution to preventing your child from feeling lonely and then crying excessively.


Your child can also be crying excessively because he or she is ill. To know if your kid is ill, you have to pay special attention especially if they’re crying excessively. Consequently, you must take your child to a doctor and get him or her treated.


Another major cause of excessive crying is infection. Your baby is prone to irritability, lethargy, poor appetite, or fever. Your child should see a doctor or healthcare provider for this.


All children must go through this stage of teething. During teething, your child cries excessively and has a fever. At times, they do not even allow any other person to carry them except you. At this stage, you need to be there for your child and ensure you provide her with prescribed health care at this point.
Other reasons why children cry excessively are as follows;

  • Colic: Discomfort or irritation as a result of wet or messed up diapers
  • Pain: Twitches that cause disturbance during sleeping
  • Muscle Jerks: Do not let your baby’s excessive crying go further than a day. See a health care provider if after you have exhausted all home remedies, the cries still do not stop.

Effects of Excessive Crying in Babies

Research has shown that children should not be left crying without been attended to. Are you wondering if excessive crying is harmful to babies? Consider first the fact that their bodies and brains are flooded with adrenaline and cortisol stress hormones. Highlighted below are the effects of excessive crying in babies.

Children Who Cry Excessively Are Liable to Develop ADHD

ADHD is a kind of mental disorder that children develop and may last till their adulthood. They may have trouble paying attention and most times, act without thinking first. They can as well be overly active.

Altering of the Brain’s Neurotransmitter Systems

Research conducted at Yale University and Harvard Medical School has discovered that excessive crying in life can lead to alteration of the brain’s neurotransmitter systems and cause changes to the brain structurally and functionally.

Over-Active Adrenaline System

Dr. Bruce Perry at Baylor University has found out that children whose excessive cries were not controlled have a high tendency of over-activeness in their systems. This may lead to aggression, impulsivity, and violence when they grow into adulthood. This is due to the neglect of the part of the brain that has to do with emotions because they were left to cry excessively as kids.

Decrease in Intellectual, Emotional and Social Development

Excessive crying can also result in an underdeveloped intellect, socials, and emotions. Dr. Micheal Lewis after his research at an American Academy of Pediatrics meeting made the statement that “The single most important influence of a child’s intellectual development is the responsiveness of the mother to the cries of her baby”
Children can have trouble controlling their emotions or interacting well with others and become fussy when their crying behavior is not handled properly. Socializing with others can become huge problems for your child if you do not handle their crying behaviors well. Their cries become very annoying and are more clingy than normal. They would also find it difficult to stay independent as they grow.


As much as crying is essential for children’s psychosocial development, there is the need to create a balance. To build or groom healthy children psychologically and physically, you have to pay attention to your child. Give them all the love they need. Create an atmosphere that enables them to grow in positivity. Give positivity to receive the same.

At the same time, ensure to seek adequate medical help for your baby when he or she has come down with a fever. Do not self-medicate as it can be very harmful to the health of the baby. Make sure you see a doctor on time.
As time goes by, you would eventually get to understand your child and what their crying means at each point in time. Crying should not last longer than the first five months. After then, they communicate with you using other mediums too other than crying alone. It is a stage all nursing mothers and babies must go through. With patience and proper attention to their needs, you’ll be grooming very intelligent and physically healthy babies.

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